Amnesty urges Saudi Arabia to commute amputation sentences

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Human rights watchdog Amnesty International urged Saudi King Abdullah to commute amputation sentences handed down against six men convicted of highway robbery in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom. The sentences to chop off the right hands and left feet of the six Saudis is currently before the Supreme Court for approval and could be carried out within days if ratified by the king, the London-based group said on Friday.
It said they were forced to confess. “‘Cross amputation’ is a strikingly cruel form of punishment that amounts to torture and should have no place in a criminal justice system,” said the watchdog’s Middle East and North Africa interim director, Philip Luther. “We are urging the king to use his authority to urgently commute these sentences and spare these men this horrific punishment,” he added.
The bedouin men were arrested in October 2010 in Riyadh, accused of “highway robbery” and taken to Malaz prison in the capital. All were allegedly beaten and forced to confess to the charges against them, Amnesty said. The men were tried before the General Court in Riyadh with no legal representation and were sentenced in March 2011 to “cross amputation”, it said, adding that an appeal court upheld the sentences in October.